Taxing Robots

TLDR: gates suggest taxing robots (companies) that replace human labor.

F’ing robots taking all the jobs!

We should deport all the robots to Mexico, even if they’re not from there.

^at least they cant climb walls to get back in

They’re not sending their best. Some of them, I assume, are good people. Sad!

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What I find interesting is the contradiction between:

  • increased robotisation taking all the unskilled jobs

  • needed immigration for all the unskilled jobs

I mean theoretically, an economy could grow even with a shrinking population (think of the components of the GDP equation or the Cobb Douglas function), given that there is sufficient capital investment, innovation and productivity.

^ Different types of unskilled jobs. Robots aren’t picking produce, cleaning houses, cutting grass, or laboring on construction sites. Illegal immigrants aren’t working the assembly lines at GM.


Ok I get that, but when the guy working on the assembly line at GM for 15$/ hour becomes redundant due to be replaced by robots, he may end up picking produce and cutting grass, hereby crowding out the illegal immigrant.

IMO it is a certainty that at least a proportion of guys currently working low-skilled jobs will compete for what is currently unskilled jobs.

I also believe that technological innovation will make a certain number of unskilled jobs redundant as well.

Therefore, there is a lot of overlapping and low-skilled as well as unskilled immigration (and I am not talking about the Persian medical student) should also become at least partly redudant.

Logically I mean.

I’m going to assume that this wasn’t suggesting that “unskilled” jobs are the only ones under technological threat. In fact, I’d imagine that if a list of jobs under threat and those not under threat were made, that the former would be far longer. I also don’t think saying that an immigrant needing to do a job says much about the slack or lack there of in our labor market. I’d say the bigger issue there is that we’ve created a robust enough safety net that if a job sucks bad enough people will just refuse to do it (to each their own on whether that’s “progress”).

As far as the OP, I’d rather we just stopped job destruction in the first place but since that would be an impossible discussion to even start, I guess the next best thing would be giving up, swallowing the UBI pill as inevitable, and talking ways to fund it like this.

^^ The assembly line guy at GM was making $25/hour and considers himself too good to pick produce or cut grass. He’d rather collect unemployment and welfare until his pension kicks in.

That very well may be, but I think that reality will be different.

Just like you had bankers working as waiters when they were cut in 2009.

Especially if that becomes a major budget/fiscal issue ; the US government will never fund unemployment of tens of millions of assembly line workers for an average of say, 20 years to retirement because none of them want to do lesser jobs.

If anything, there will be political pressure to crowd out immigrants from unskilled jobs so as to lessen the pressure on wages.

So all in all, I anticipate that it will become much more conflictual than what you anticipate, and I still don’t see how technology advances won’t make immigration at least partly redundant (again, I am talking about low-skilled AND unskilled labor).

Yes I agree, which reinforces my initial belief.

Correct. You have uncovered the big problem; there is no economic macro-plan.

My advice: If you don’t commit to lifetime technological learning and (re)training you’ll likely get ground under the wheel at some point.


Absolutely. Was more going for that there’s an unemployment rate in there somewhere that the entire game would be forced to change in such a way that none of that would even matter anymore.

I have absolutely no clue what that sentence means.

The economic system that regulates an economy with a 10% natural unemployment rate can only look so similar to the one that regulates the economy with a 80% natural unemployment rate. If we’re going to let this track out (which is ultimately a choice), I see one of the changes being an ongoing convergence between the QOL of the employed and the unemployed. At some point the entire paradigm that one’s life is supposed to be spent transforming into some salable labor market widget would go out the window. Just my $.02, hopefully that sentence makes more sense now.